New process in the production of Hydrogen - CNRS Researchers

A team of CNRS researchers has succeeded in developing a new process of producing hydrogen: it reduces production costs and emissions of greenhouse gases.

The use of hydrogene as powerful vector of energy runs up against the production of the hydrogen molecules, which are not in a pure state. Tackling the challenge facing researchers is to produce the hydrogen, reducing the impact in terms of emissions of carbon dioxide.

For this, the electrolysis of water, ie its decomposition into hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O), is one of the solutions. Today mastered, this technique does have some disadvantages: its performance does not exceed 80%, its production cost is too high and some materials are used or hazardous pollutants.

To overcome these shortcomings, many scholars have, since 2004, combined their expertise in the framework of a research program on the massive production of hydrogen, four research teams are associated with companies AREVA NP, a subsidiary of the AREVA group and SCT, a global leader in the association metal - ceramics.

To obtain hydrogen by electrolysis of water with a higher return, it must be heated two channels are possible. The first more "traditional" uses conduction by O2-ions while the second relies on the movement of protons (H +).

Main advantage of the proton channel: it requires lower temperatures of around 600 ° C. At these temperatures, a good proton conductivity can be envisaged, using materials inexpensive and reliable. That is why scientists have chosen to explore and optimize this path.

Their work was conducted in two stages: they first designed a device to study in situ the materials constituting the electrolyser and then, they have developed two electrolysers instruments, ie to include , temperature sensors, pressure, measuring the current produced.

Scientists were able to accurately determine the conditions for the hydrogen in large quantities and reliably.

One of their ideas was to perform electrolysis pressure (between 50 and 100 bars). And it has proven to be effective. In fact, the main parameters of electrolysers to have improved: the first tests can reach significant amounts of hydrogen, with a current level well above what was previously made by their foreign competitors working on the chain proton.

In addition, this new technology reduces the operating temperature by nearly 200° C compared to the solution by ion conduction by O2-. A final advantage by allowing the use of commercial alloys, and decreases the cost of hydrogen produced.

This result, promising and vital for the economic future of the hydrogen, leaving hope for the development of technologies and economic cost. Although before producing hydrogen and massive low-cost, efforts are still needed. Work of development of the device is already envisaged.

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